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Navy Vet Zumwalt Seeks Congessional Seat

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

For Republican James Zumwalt, seeking the Florida District-1 seat in the U.S. House of Representatives is a continuation to his service to country.

If you served in the U.S. Navy in the 1970s and early 1980s and were allowed to have a beard, you have James Zumwalt’s grandfather to thank. Admiral Elmo Zumwalt was Chief of Naval Operations from 1970 to 1974.

James Zumwalt is eighth generation military, Navy, who served two combat tours in Iraq as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Platoon Commander. He’s also worked at the Pentagon monitoring terrorists and on Capitol Hill. 

So, what prompted him to run for Congress?

“To tell you the truth, running for Congress is not in my best interest,” said Zumwalt. “I view it like walking down on an IED [Improvised Explosive Device] to go defuse it. But the stakes are too high. The career politicians in Washington are now eroding from within the very fabric of the Constitution that my guys and I defended.”

Zumwalt, who calls himself a Constitutional conservative, sees his military experience as a parallel to serving in Congress. 

“It’s one of those things that when I returned home from Iraq from my last deployment, and I took a look around and realized a very important lesson,” Zumwalt said. “The biggest threat to this Republic is not in the Middle East – it’s in Washington. And if that’s where the fight for this great Republic takes me, then that’s where I’m happy to go.”

While there a myriad issues to tackle on Capitol Hill, two stand out for Zumwalt. Number one is homeland security. Number 1-A involves veterans issues in general, and a re-vamping the Department of Veterans’ Affairs in particular.

“When I was working on Capitol Hill I saw first-hand the problems that the Veterans Affairs Committee was having providing oversight on this terrible VA,” Zumwalt says. “I want to be able to fire [VA] officials for being directly or indirectly the cause of any veteran who lost their lives. We need to instill transparency and accountability.”

After having lost 11 friends and comrades in Iraq, what’s near and dear to Zumwalt’s heart is how to address veterans’ suicides: a current rate of about 22 per day. He says many make the false assumption that they have to do with combat-related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

“VA policy is essentially just to throw these guys prescriptions like they’re candy,” said Zumwalt. “Now these guys are on pharmaceutical cocktails, [and] that’s further isolating them from their communities and their families. And that’s exactly where a veteran does not need to be.”

Zumwalt wants more flexibility from the VA with the use of alternative medicines and therapy, and other non-traditional approaches to treating veterans.

“I know as a fact, because I did it – if you throw a bunch of veterans suffering from the same ailment on a kayak and give them a bunch of fishing poles and have them swap stories together,” said Zumwalt. “They’re not going to need pills that day, or that week or even that month.”

And at the end of the visit, James Zumwalt was asked to go into the windup and make his pitch to the voters of Florida House-1.


“I have this vision of just as important as what you know, is knowing what you do not know,” said Zumwalt. “I’ve never been a teacher, but I’ve sat down with superintendents, members of the school board, teachers, principals, that have decades and decades of experience. I’m going to leverage that. To me, that’s real representation.”

Awaiting the Republican nominee on November 8 is Democrat Steven Specht, who has no primary opposition.